Trapping the Elegant Chambered Nautilus


During my young days as a journalist, I chanced upon a village in Mindoro where that there was not a single dog. I discovered that dog meat where placed in bamboo traps and sunk in places where the elegant giant seashell, the CHAMBERED NAUTILUS, roamed.

The meat of the shell was eaten raw with vinegar and chili, a local delicacy. The shell was cleaned, dried, and stacked until the Chinese buyer arrived from Cebu City, who made a killing, selling the shells at 20 times the purchase price. The shells are varnished, adorned and exported to Hongkong.

Dogs became rare, then finally disappeared. The village imported dogs from other villages, kept guarded them well until they are slaughtered as bait for the elegant seashell.

The rare Chambered Nautilus, by the time they reach wealthy Hongkong buyers, would be about 50 times the price paid to marginal fishermen who were at the bottom of the food chain. Such was life in Mindoro Island, with its rich marine resources but poor fisher-folk,, who were happy enough to be rescued from extreme poverty, considered as a blessing from the Lord.

eastwind journals, May 9, 2021 (archives FBS1)

By Bernie V. Lopez,

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